View Full Version : Elderberry Damiana Mead

02-11-2010, 01:29 AM
I am trying to follow the site rules so here is the recipe I used:
18 lbs orange blossom honey
1 1/2 gallons of elderberry juice
3 gallons water
Yeast - cote des blanc
whipped with stick blender after started yeast was added

the starting SP was 1110
potential alcho. was 14.5

after the first racking at day 21 - the SP was 1000
NOW the PA would be ZERO??

The Damiana left a very bitter taste (common for many of the herbs I have used) and so I planned on added more honey at the next racking.

I sterilize everything as with my other batches and have never had any issues but these readings are different. Is this due to the tannin that is natural in the elderberry?? I think I understand that PA is aprox and not absolute but how much lower can the SP go??

I guess I just need to know if I am on the right track... Thank you SO much!


02-11-2010, 05:59 AM
very interesting looking post--a friend of mine has recently been using damiana as a smoking herb which I find to be relaxing and promotes lucid dreaming. I had considered some brews using herbs for (as it was put in another post) "added effects" both medicinal and recreational. I look forward to your future posts.

As to your post--

SP is a term I do not think I am familiar with. Most hydrometers read in Specific Gravity (SG--is this what you meant?) &/or in Brix.

your readings seem pretty normal to me, you made a dry mead at 14.5% abv. PABV went to 0% because with all of the sugar fermented out there is no more potential for alcohol production. If there is a number higher than SG 1.000 you have sugar left over and you've made a sweet mead without back sweetening, I do this often. Simply subtract your new PABV from your initial PABV to find out how much alcohol you made. In very high alcohol brews I've seen SG drop to .99~.. being that there is so much alcohol in the brew it is actually thinner than water.

If 1.000 is lower than you are used to than the natural nutrients in the elderberry may have given your yeast a little kick. I once had a sweet mead wake right back up and run dry once I added a few pounds of cherries.

The thing to be wary of in back sweetening is renewed fermentation. Say you add enough honey to make your mead 1.020, thats about 2.5% PABV worth of sugar. If your yeast is not at its peak tolerance or dead by other means (sulfites and sorbates) it may restart fermentation and go dry yet again. There are two problems with this-- 1) renewed fermentation can create stressed yeasties and that can make harsher alcohol 2) if you bottled already renewed fermentation in the bottle could turn your mead into sweet handcrafted hand grenades (seriously--look for "bottle bombs" on the site)

I do not know the alcohol tolerance of cote des blanc, someone else may be able to help or you may find it on the site. A quick google search told me it goes anywhere from 14-16 % depending on who you ask.

by the by--could you update your recipe to show how much damiana was used?

hope that helps, I gess I didnt mean to go on for so long...
best of luck in all you endeavor


Medsen Fey
02-11-2010, 10:30 AM
Welcome to GotMead Michele!!!

The Damiana left a very bitter taste (common for many of the herbs I have used) ...

To say nothing about elderberries. The tannins in elderberry can be quite bitter. How was the elderberry juice processed?

I guess I just need to know if I am on the right track...

It sounds like you are on the right track. Côte des Blancs is supposed to have a tolerance of about 14% ABV or less, but I've had it go beyond 15% when well fed. When you add more honey, it may very will kick up fermentation again.


02-11-2010, 02:55 PM
Yes I am sorry I did mean SG!!
I understand what has happened now... thanks!
I used 2 muslin bags of Damiana for a total of 3cups.
The Yarrow I used in the last batch created quite an experience!
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers
Describes herbal brews very well.

I am pondering a batch with http://www.erowid.org/plants/calea_zacatechichi/
next as I grow it along with healing herbs such as St. johns wort.

02-11-2010, 02:57 PM
I picked and pressed the elderberries myself, then I froze the juice until ready. I boiled only the berries (no mean feat!) and although I ended up with some seeds, it was very clean.

02-11-2010, 03:00 PM
haha, I wonder if the Vikings could have used some "mead bombs"! I am pretty paranoid about not bottling until after fermentation ends. I would love to create a bubbling mead but just don't trust the explosion factor!

Medsen Fey
02-11-2010, 03:04 PM
It sounds like you handled the berries in a way to that would keep the tannins from being overpowering.

It sounds quite tasty. How's the color?

02-11-2010, 03:19 PM
Oh the color is stunning! I am also a fiber worker and have decided that the berries left after pressing this year will be used to dye a nice batch of wool!
It is only a tad cloudy but I expect that to improve. I will post pictures soon!

03-17-2010, 09:26 PM
Elderberry Damiana Yohimbe is being bottled tonight... As for the recipe, I will be making a tincture of the Damiana NEXT time (as I did with the Yohimbe this time) instead of adding the herbs. The bitterness was VERY pronounced and it took alot of extra honey to cover it!
With the added honey, it is wonderful though! Very rich and berry flavors with that special "tingle" that I was looking for with the herbs!